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Covid travel: France removed from amber plus list in major overhaul

·4 min read

Double-vaccinated passengers travelling from France will no longer need to isolate after a major overhaul of travel restrictions saw the country moved from the Amber Plus list.

Spain has also avoided being given red status, but the Government is urging travellers to take a PCR test before they fly home from the country.

Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway are among seven countries being added to the quarantine-free green list.

India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are all being moved out of the red, high-risk category.

The decision means arriving travellers will no longer be required to spend 11 nights at a coronavirus quarantine hotel.

Mexico, Georgia and the French overseas departments of La Reunion and Mayotte will be put in the red tier.

The changes to the travel lists come into force at 4am on Sunday.

Quarantine hotel costs are soaring to “better reflect the increased costs involved”, according to the Government.

From August 12 the rate for solo travellers will rise from £1,750 to £2,285.

Additional adults sharing a room will see their bill hiked from £650 to £1,430.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the Government is “committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we’ve made through our successful vaccination programme”.

He went on: “While we must continue to be cautious, today’s changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said changes to the travel lists are “based on the latest data and expert public health advice”.

He added that the announcement “demonstrates the need for continued caution”, with additions made to the red list to “help protect the success of our vaccine rollout from the threat of new variants”.

Travellers arriving from Spain to use PCR test ‘wherever possible’

The travel industry had feared that Spain could be added to the red list following a recent rise in coronavirus cases.

The Government urged travellers arriving from Spain to take a PCR test “wherever possible” as their mandatory pre-departure test.

Many people currently use cheaper lateral flow tests to meet the testing requirement.

In a statement, the Government said PCR tests should be used “as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country”.

It added that UK clinicians and scientists “remain in close contact with their counterparts in Spain to keep abreast of the latest data and picture of cases”.

The Government claimed its decision to scrap the amber plus list and align France in line with the rest of the amber list “simplifies the system to three categories”.

But the green watchlist – which is designed to give travellers notice where green status is at risk – remains in use, and is unchanged.

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the extension of the green list is “a positive step forward” but warned that the UK remains “a long way off a full and meaningful restart of international travel”.

Tim Alderslade, boss of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, described the announcement as “another missed opportunity”.

He added that the travel industry has not had “anything like the reopening it was hoping for”.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “While there’s some welcome progress, the Government is still being too cautious at a time when they should be opening up travel faster to help the sector’s recovery.”

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: “Now summer is fully under way, this provides some reassurance to consumers by keeping the status quo for key holiday destinations, as well as adding some Green list destinations for last-minute bookers where there are still great flight and holiday deals available.

“But we remain disappointed at the double standards applied to travel versus the domestic economy. With infection rates remaining lower in much of Europe and the high vaccination levels in the UK, if not now, it is hard to know when the time is for much of Europe to genuinely turn Green.

“And Government urgently needs to tackle this expensive testing regime which is adding unnecessary cost, especially for the fully vaccinated. No one wants to see flying become a preserve of the rich again – particularly when so many need to get away or reunite after such a long time.”

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